I wanted some practice using the MIG welder, and I also wanted to make something that might find a use in the house. I settled on a small towel rack for hand towels near the bathroom sink. This Instructable will not cover welding techniques, and looking at my welds you will probably be thankful. Instead I will go over the steps I followed and some of the tools available at the TechShop.
Step 1: Gather the Materials
The towel rack needs a base, vertical supports, and the horizontal rack. I used some steel rod, square tubing, and plate purchased from the local metal stock and scrap seller. The bottom of the towel rack used 3/8 inch steel plate and the end caps for the square tubing were cut from 20 gauge sheet.
Step 2: Cutting Materials to Size
Cut the pieces to the desired size. I had access to the fancy tools at the TechShop, but a hack saw or angle grinder could also be used.
I used the horizontal band saw to cut the square tubing to 14.5 inches (a little longer than the folded towel length).
Then I cut the rod with the chop saw. Based on the materials I had on hand, I used the longest dimension of the 3/8" plate (the diagonal) to get the length of the rod.
Finally, I used a tin snips and file to get the end caps sized correctly (just a hair smaller than the outside dimension of the square tubing).
Step 3: Welding the End Caps
Use a tack weld to place the end cap on the end of the square tubing. I used a handy magnet to hold the cap in place and then put a tack weld on two sides. Once the end cap is held in place, weld around the entire perimeter. See the welding set up Instructable for more specific details about the MIG welder.
Step 4: Welding the Rod
Attach the two uprights to the horizontal rod. Again, I used the magnets to hold the everything in place while I tacked the pieces together. I placed the rod at the top of the square tubing (the end that was capped earlier) and did my best to get right angles between the two uprights and the horizontal rod.
Step 5: Welding on the Base
Tack and weld the square uprights to the base plate. I wanted to maximize the horizontal distance for my towel, so I used the diagonal of the plate.
Since the towel rack will be in the bathroom, it should be primed and painted.